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Boozer returns as Bulls look to finish off strong before the break

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Carlos Boozer will return to the starting lineup tonight for the Bulls when they take on the Brooklyn Nets.

The power forward missed the past three games with a strained left calf. While he’ll be back in his normal role, his minutes are uncertain because of his conditioning. He’s averaging 29.2 minutes on the season.

“I don’t know where he’ll be,” coach Tom Thibodeau said. “I’m not really concerned about the injury because I think that part is fine. But the conditioning part of it, I’m concerned about that.”

Even with returning to his sixth-man role, Taj Gibson might still see some extra duty than the 29 minutes he’s averaged this season. In seven games as a starter this season, Gibson is averaging 18.6 points, 9.4 rebounds while playing 41 minutes a game.

“His minutes will be fine,” Thibodeau said. “They’re going to be about where they normally are. We had to extend them because you’re losing a big that is a big part of the team. So his minutes had to go up and (Joakim’s) minutes had to go up. We’ll see how it unfolds but for us to achieve what we want to achieve, Carlos has to play. He’s got a big role on this team.”

This is the last game for the Bulls before the All-Star break, which will give them four days off and six days before their next game. For a team that has faced various obstacles in the first half of the season, a break is needed for all, but Thibodeau doesn’t want them focusing on the time off until it’s here.

“I don’t want them to go on break early though. For them, we have to finish strong here,” Thibodeau said. “We know how hard and how well Brooklyn is playing and the challenge at this time of year is to remained focused. So we have to finish this strong and then you go into the break and get a little bit of rest. But you have be make sure you’re ready when you come back. You can’t come back and be on break. The important thing for us is to continue to go step by stepy; it’s all a process and whatever you’re facing at that particular time, maximize whatever it is that you’re looking at. Tonight, be ready for Brooklyn and after that, be ready for whatever comes next.”

Known as a work horse, Thibodeau actually said he would be taken a bit of a break away from basketball during the time off.

“I’m actually excited about the break because there is a lot of things I want to get done,” he said. “I will take in a couple of movies though. I want to see the “(Wolf) on Wall Street. I want to get to that one. That’s my first one.”

When told there was a lot of profanity, Thibodeau replied, “Oh, I love it. Maybe (Mayor of Chicago) Rahm (Emmanuel) will want to go.”

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